“Everything is Extremely Important: There is Nothing That Will Not Come Back Again”
Yu Honglei solo exhibition, curated by Aimee Lin @ Magician Space, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
12 July – 8 September, 2013
By Edward Sanderson
(left) “Now,” (right) “Gravity”
(background) “Jian Ge Wen Ling,” (foreground) “Let Me Approach You Again”
(foreground) “It,” (background) “First into the Mist”
(left) “In the midst of the blooming flowers, she smiles.” (right) “Gravity”
Various objects and constructions are dispersed around the first room of “Everything is Extremely Important: There is Nothing That Will Not Come Back Again,” Yu Honglei’s solo exhibition at Magician Space. It is assumed that each is intentionally chosen and arranged, and as such suggests that they are imbued with meaning. Yet in Yu’s presentation, while objects and assemblages tempt interpretation, their meanings are left resolutely unclear—never quite fulfilling the viewer’s efforts to read them.
A low barrier perforated with a brickwork pattern is coated in a lumpy, clay-like material with two digital clocks, displaying identical times, inserted in the gaps. On the other side of the room, a similar barrier is laden with the same shapeless material this time supporting a light bulb and fitting. Towards the back wall two sky-blue wooden beams (reportedly from an “ancient building”) stand upright on tripods, with stuffed budgerigars clinging to their surface. A low, black, wooden box stands to one side, with two black porcelain cat figurines perched neatly on top.
The wall text characterizes Chen Shaoxiong and Liu Ding’s “Project Without Space” as an “iteration,” suggesting a serial repetition, one on top of the last, in a process of refinement. Now it has reached its sixth version with this presentation of paintings and videos, what lessons can we draw from these critical installations?
Spread over three rooms, “Project Without Space” takes a number of forms. In one room, two new walls have been constructed, providing settings for two videos and two paintings. One video records the artists in the process of installing the previous “Project Without Space #5” (earlier in 2012 at Magician Space down the road in 798). The video is accelerated and subtitles appear over the image, apparently a record of the artists’ conversations regarding their work and activities (“However you want to paint this one, just go ahead and do it.” “Our intellectual production is our work.”). The other video shows the two artists sitting in a café, evidently engaging in conversation, with a similar series of subtitles. The paintings bring together forms that suggest other painted artworks from (predominantly Western?) art history over the previous century, perhaps the most recognisable being several flat coloured shapes from “The Snail” by Henri Matisse.
Aike-Dellarco Gallery, at Art Basel Hong Kong (Hall 1, Booth 1D50)
23 – 26 May, 2013
Interviewer: Edward Sanderson Interviewee: Li Ran
Li Ran is a Chinese artist working with performance and video to create “mockumentaries” around fictional (or part-fictional) characters. Over the last year Li has had solo shows at Beijing’s Magician Space and Shanghai’s Aike Dellarco Gallery, and was included in the Shenzhen and Gwangju Biennales. Li took part in curator Biljana Ciric’s “Alternatives to Ritual” exhibition at the Goethe Institute Open Space in Shanghai, and ON/OFF, a major survey of young Chinese artists in Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA). Currently he has new work on show at Shenzhen’s OCT and has just appeared in a group show focusing on reassessing performance art in China (curated by Su Wei at Beijing’s Star Gallery). For Art Basel Hong Kong, Li has been commissioned by Aike Dellarco to create a new piece for the gallery’s space in the “Discoveries” section of the fair.
Five monumental structures are distributed around the gallery space, coated in slicks of pigment. These multi-coloured, yet muted, painted surfaces have taken on the turbulent patterns of weather systems, or of ink in water. Despite their geometric shapes, the surfaces have a plastic quality, giving an organic effect to the objects. On the floor on one side of each of these monuments stands a tripod, supporting a vertical, tubular arrangement of hard-edged gold or silver tubes, but with additions of hand-formed plastic or clay elements in day-glo colours formed inside or around them. The polished metal, and neon colours, of these tubular structures stand out in contrast to the generally darker palette of the monuments against which they stand.